Hamilton, ON- When McMaster Marauders guard Karim Raza’s three-point shot swished through the net, the Burridge Gym crowd cheered. The Marauders men’s basketball team had just reached 100 points – capping off an 101-56 victory over the Algoma Thunderbirds on Jan. 22.
It was the second time this season the Marauders have reached the century mark. The previous occurrence was a 110-65 win over the Redeemer Royals in exhibition play.
McMaster has been hot as of late, winning six of their past seven games. The offence has been clicking with players sharing the ball and hitting their shots.
They had 22 assists in a win over the Nipissing Lakers. They had played the defending OUA champion Brock Badgers close earlier that week before losing a close one 76-69. It motivated them for the Algoma game.
“We should have won that game,” second-year guard Ay Osunde said. “We decided we can’t take any game lightly and just come out even hungrier.”
The home team displayed their hunger early on against the Thunderbirds, getting out to a 35-14 lead. They shot 70 per cent from the field and 50 per cent from three in the first quarter.
Osunde said the team focuses and locks in before the game – knowing the game plan and the scouting report.
Against Brock, Tatham said they played better in their second meeting with them than their first (a 76-67 loss at home on Nov. 19). However, they were out-rebounded 50-33. Badgers forward Jordan Tchuente had as many offensive rebounds (10) as McMaster’s entire team.
The script flipped against Algoma with McMaster hauling down most of those boards (52-25). They stole the ball 12 times as well. When they got their hands on the basketball, the players pushed the ball in transition. They shared it as well.
The Marauders had 25 assists on 38 made field goals. Osunde said that comes from players being unselfish.
“Being able to make the one extra pass,” he noted. “Everyone can get a good shot but it’s better to get a great shot.”
McMaster head coach Patrick Tatham said the key to shooting well is staying to their script. That means breaking the defence down, sharing the ball and letting their defence lead to offence.
“When you’re able to stick to the script, share the ball, get into the paint, the shooting starts to open up more and more and more,” he added.
There were many notable performances from the evening. Guard Mychael Paulo led them with 14 points. Paulo and guard Mike Demagus each had a team-best three steals. Forward Khalil Miller had a team-high 15 rebounds.
Osunde did a bit of everying. He made plays by scoring (11 points from shooting three-for-9 from three), setting up teammates (seven assists) as well as collecting three rebounds, two steals and a block.
The Marauders also dug into their bench with 12 players playing and 12 players scoring. Each one of them saw at least 12 minutes of game action.
Raza, Brandon Bernard, Thomas Matsell and Luke De Gannes all made shots and plays as the Marauders kept their firm grip on the lead throughout the game.
Osunde pointed out how seeing everyone score brings up the energy with their teammates cheering them on from the bench.
It’s a valuable chance for some of the players to get in-game action, according to Tatham. It helps build confidence and understanding of what’s expected from them. “Some of the bench guys that contributed today, we’re going to have to try them out in another environment,” he said.
When might those opportunities arise? Tatham hinted possibly at upcoming games against Western, Windsor and Toronto.
For the head coach, it comes from his feeling of a game. The Marauders have their regular rotation players but there could be opportunities for the bench players to see some action – perhaps in some crucial stretches as well.
Maybe it’ll come when they feel there’s a cushion in the game. “Maybe we need a three-point shot or some short of injection in terms of energy, one of these bench guys might be able to provide that in a two-minute span,” Tatham said.
Maybe when those players are in that situation, they’ll reflect on that January evening against Algoma when they were moving the ball, they were scoring and their teammates were cheering as they hit 100 points.
Featured Image: Myra Whitfield/McMaster Athletics